Naomi Gonzalez: Empowering People Through Inclusive Apparel Designs
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only Interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Naomi Gonzalez, co-founder of TomboyX. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome, Naomi! I’m super excited to have the chance to talk to you! Can you start by telling me what challenge you are addressing?
Naomi: TomboyX is a progressive underwear and apparel brand for people of all shapes, sizes, and orientations. We work to empower people to live their most confident life in style and comfort via our great fitting and inclusive designs.
Spiffy: That sounds amazing! Great fitting and inclusive apparel are really hard to find. What motivated you to do it?
Naomi: As lesbians and tomboys we didn't feel seen or heard in the fashion industry when we started the company eight years ago. We decided if we weren't seeing it we should try and make it ourselves. We did a Kickstarter campaign that started with a button-down shirt but then we started hearing from folks that they loved the brand and wanted us to make boxer briefs for women. We listened to them and when we tripled our sales in six months we pivoted to become an inclusive underwear company. From the beginning, we've done this for our customers. Every week at our team meetings we read a customer review where we get to hear the impact we're having on people who feel they can finally be comfortable in their own skin. That means everything to us.
Spiffy: Can you talk about how TomboyX is working to make the world a more equitable place?
Naomi: At TomboyX we have consistently questioned why there needs to be a gender binary in apparel. From the beginning, we have focused on making quality products that are made to last and we pride ourselves on the fit. We feel that if we focus on those things, along with size inclusivity, our product can fit anyone. And it does!
Spiffy: Have you reached any milestones you’re really proud about? What impact does that make?
Naomi: Well, Spiffy, in April 2021 we applied to become B Corp Certified. We are currently in due diligence and hope to be fully certified by the end of the year. This Certification ensures that we as an organization will always be sustainably focused in how we show up for our customers, community, employees, the environment, and the Board.
Spiffy: I’m wondering if you could share about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from failure?
Naomi: I grew up in New York City. At 17 years old, I was kicked out of my home for being gay. I had nowhere to go. I was scared but I also had this internal sense of finally having freedom. So I latched onto that for strength and got to work calling every school friend I had, asking if I could crash at their house for a few months before I left for college. Eventually, a friend said yes and I wound up having one of the best summers of my life. It was then that I also experienced my first Pride parade. Being in NYC, Pride was epic and made me realize I wasn't alone and that there were plenty of people who were just like me. This experience taught me to always be true to myself and to find strength in my community.
Spiffy: Wow, Naomi, what a story. Before we sign off, is there anything you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently that you could share with us?
Naomi: Letting go of expectations means every day is an adventure! My friend Gladys is a pro at this. Every time we travel together we make sure to leave time to have absolutely nothing planned so that we can go exploring. It's always a blast and we have stories to tell for years to come.
Spiffy: That’s my favorite way to travel, Naomi! Thanks so much for sitting down and talking to me about your journey with TomboyX. It’s been an honor!
A first-generation Cuban-American and sports massage therapist turned entrepreneur, Naomi Gonzalez has been a Tomboy her whole life: questioning norms, breaking down barriers, and doing what makes her happy instead of what society expects. As co-founder and COO of TomboyX, Naomi believes in the relentless pursuit of passion both in life and in work. Helping people feel seen and comfortable in their own skin is the heart of the TomboyX brand. (First published on the Ladderworks website on September 28, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.